Natural and social scientists develop new model of how ‘perfect storm’ of crises could unravel global system
A new study sponsored by Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilisation could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution.
Noting that warnings of ‘collapse’ are often seen to be fringe or controversial, the study attempts to make sense of compelling historical data showing that “the process of rise-and-collapse is actually a recurrent cycle found throughout history.” Cases of severe civilisational disruption due to “precipitous collapse – often lasting centuries – have been quite common.”
The research project is based on a new cross-disciplinary ‘Human And Nature DYnamical’ (HANDY) model, led by applied mathematician Safa Motesharri of the US National Science Foundation-supported National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, in association with a team of natural and social scientists. The study based on the HANDY model has been accepted for publication in the peer-reviewed Elsevier journal, Ecological Economics.
Phi Beta Iota: Concentration of wealth is what brings people into the streets PROVIDED there is a “precipitant” such as the Tunesian fruit seller. On the infrastructure and resource side, they are talking about a perfect storm of cascading failures. For example, if the NYC gas explosion has started a fire storm on a windy day in NYC, and the NYC water mains (also 120 years old) had failed, NYC would have been the equivalent of the Dresden bombings. Water is our weak point — despite the existence of solar energy options and water desalination options, no government is being serious about planning for a complete loss of access to the existing 1% of water that is clean and available.